Your loved ones’ furry companions might tag along to celebrate the New Year in your home. Issues may arise if your pet sees them as competition.
Make the holiday a smooth-sailing experience for all four-legged friends in your household by taking note of these pieces of advice:
1. Start carrying out introductions before New Year.
Teaching your pet to get along with other animals takes time. If you are lucky, the introduction process may last for a few days to a few weeks if both quickly grow on each other.
However, there will always be a time when your furry friend might not hit it well with your guests’ pets. It would take more than weeks or several months to help them acclimate to each other’s presence.
Thus, setting enough time for proper pet introductions is crucial. Doing it during the peak of the New Year’s celebration is not ideal.
Most if not everyone will be busy with holiday preparations. It could lead to rushed pet introductions, which will do more harm than good.
Begin the process at least a month or two before the festivities. Reach out early to guests who might need to bring along their pets, as leaving them in a pet boarding house or daycare is not feasible.
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2. Initially let pets meet through their scents.
Immediate face-to-face introductions can be disastrous as pets are unfamiliar with each other. So start by making them accustomed to each other’s smell.
Use scent soakers like a towel or pet blanket to collect your furry pal’s scent. Rub it on his neck, chin, or belly. Ask your guest to do the same to their pet. Afterward, switch scent soakers and allow your furry friend to sniff them.
You can also place the scent soaker under his food and water bowls. This way it would help him associate the smell of the other pet with a positive experience.
It is also a good idea to let your guest’s pet explore and sniff around areas in your home where your furry pal commonly hangs around. Make sure to crate your pet in a separate room before carrying this out to avoid fights from breaking out.
3. Help them bond together during mealtimes.
Once both pets have become familiar with their respective scents, time to get them comfortable with each other’s presence. This should be done without them meeting face-to-face first.
Invite your guest to bring their pet a few days a week so their furry friend can have mealtimes with your pet together.
However, your pet needs to be confined in an enclosed room when carrying this out. The other animal must eat his meal on the other side of the door.
Just remember to place their food bowls far away from the door. Doing so keeps resource guarding from becoming an issue. Gradually move the food bowls nearer to the door every session if both pets remain calm whilst hearing themselves eat.
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4. Let both pets blow off steam before initiating face-to-face meetings.
Pets with high energy levels, particularly dogs, need to expend their energy before face-to-face introductions.
Otherwise, they will become too excitable and might try to chase your guest’s pet. This can quickly turn into a precarious situation especially if the other animal is a cat.
Ensure that pets have enough exercise to minimise the chances of this problem happening. Pooches often require 30 minutes to an hour of playtime. Sporting dog breeds and working dog breeds will need more.
On the other hand, cats do well with 15–30 minutes of exercise. Just take care not to overexercise your pet. Excessively depleting his energy might cause him to become too tired to go through the whole introduction process.
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5. Find a neutral ground for them.
Meet and greets of your furry pal and your guest’s pet must happen in a neutral and calm space. Avoid carrying out introductions in an area that your pet frequents. Otherwise, it might trigger territorial behaviour and cause a scuffle.
If both animals are dogs, face-to-face meetings can be done outdoors, such as in a back garden or an empty lot. If the other animal is a cat, stick to indoor introductions and opt for areas like the basement, garage, or bathroom.
The place should have perching areas like shelves where the cat can escape when she feels overwhelmed.
Do not place items in the room that will motivate resource guarding. A few examples are pet toys, blankets, empty food bowls, and dog bones. Keep in mind that random things like shoes, socks, and clothing may also trigger this behaviour.
6. Keep dogs on a lead to avoid chasing behaviours.
Face-to-face meetings with pets during the New Year should be in a controlled setting. For this reason, pooches, particularly those predisposed to chasing like herding dogs, need to be on a lead.
This is a good precautionary measure to take even if the canine has a calm predisposition.
Using a houseline instead of a lead is advisable during the initial phase of meet and greets. A houseline is a 6 to 10-foot-long training lead that can be attached to a dog harness or collar.
The long length of the houseline allows pooches to walk around without feeling restricted.
This feature also gives you control to stop chasing behaviour during pet introductions in a non-confrontational way. Gently yet firmly step on the houseline to distract your dog from running after an invited pet.
Then give him a command like “sit” or “stay” to redirect his focus. Be sure to reward him with treats once he successfully completes it. Doing so will encourage him to exhibit this desired behaviour much more often.
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Once chasing behaviours become minimal, switch the houseline with a lead. This should be done before the actual New Year’s celebrations. Since the lead is shorter, it is less likely to cause accidents like guests tripping over it.
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7. Manage resource-guarding behaviours.
Resource guarding is unavoidable during the New Year, especially if other pets are invited over to your home. Fortunately, this can be managed by eliminating any opportunities that would cause such behaviour.
Here are a few helpful tips that you can try:
Let guests bring their pets’ necessities.
Scarcity is one of the primary causes of resource guarding. To avoid this issue during holiday gatherings, inform your guests early on that they need to provide their own furry pal’s essentials. These include:
- Food and water bowls
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By doing so, each pet has their own resources to use. Thus, it lessens their need to take away items owned by another animal and, in turn, lowers the chances of conflicts arising.
- Take time to restrict access.
Some pets tend to guard certain areas of a house because it is their safe space. Keep invited animals from triggering this type of resource guarding by blocking their access to these places.
Rooms with doors should be securely locked as some pets are smart enough to open them. For areas without doors, block them using baby gates or pens.
Make sure that these obstructions are tall enough to prevent high-jumping animals like cats from passing through.
- Separation during mealtimes.
Food is a strong motivator of resource guarding, so feeding your pet together with your guests’ pets in the same room is a recipe for disaster.
Stop this problem from happening by keeping the animals in separate rooms during mealtimes. This allows them to eat in peace. If you do not have enough rooms to accommodate all pets, feed them inside their crates.
The separation method can be done to pets that habitually guard their toys as well.
- Do not leave random objects lying around.
We have mentioned earlier that even household items can cause resource guarding. Hence, be sure to clean up your home before the holiday gathering.
Any item that a pet might find valuable enough to guard must be placed in a secure place. Store them inside high shelves or cabinets with secure and durable locks.
- Inform family members and guests about the dos and don’ts.
Resource guarding prevention is the responsibility of everyone in the household. Run through the precautions to be done with your family and friends before the New Year’s celebration begins.
Keep them from forgetting by making a list of reminders and tacking it on every area in your home. There is no harm in providing quick refreshers every once in a while, especially to children who tend to have a short attention span.
8. Prepare pets for oncoming fireworks noises.
Fireworks are some of the best highlights of the New Year. However, they are not a fun experience for pets due to their loud booming noises and bright flashing lights.
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Anxiety and distress in animals become worse if many of them are in the same panicked state. In some cases, it can lead to fights because pets are high-strung and irritable.
That is why maintaining a peaceful and calm environment for them during the fireworks display is important.
If possible, place pets in separate rooms far away from the fireworks. Those that are crate-trained can stay in their crates.
Just be sure to cover the crates with a blanket to muffle the sounds and lights. But leave one side of it uncovered for proper ventilation. Playing white noise or soothing music will also help in keeping pets calm.